You may have had a Radiance Facial, been on a Radiance Spa Day or read a review that talks about the reviewer’s skin looking 'radiant'. But what does radiance mean?
According to the Collins Dictionary, radiance is “great happiness which shows in someone’s face and makes them look very attractive,” as well as a “glowing light shining from something”. Think Renaissance religious paintings, although maybe without the beatific expression and halo. In terms of beauty, light and happiness are key elements in creating radiance. So how do you emerge from your spa day radiating light and joy, people? Form an orderly queue for our top ten ways to get radiant.
A facial scrub or exfoliation is a marvellous way to get an instant flush of colour in your cheeks. The treatment also removes the top dead layer of skin and stimulates collagen production to leave your skin looking plump, firm and hydrated. You don’t have to use scrubs with rough textures – plant enzymes or hyaluronic acid do the same in a smoother, creamy form. Splash out on a facial that will give your face a super cleanse with a boost of hydrating nutrients.
You can, of course, continue this at home. Try to exfoliate once or twice a week, either with a scrub or mask; any more and you may over-stimulate your skin and cause a break outs. Don’t forget to think below the neck, scrubwise.
You might not be lying fully exposed on a beach any time soon, but a body exfoliation will make your skin so zingy you’ll feel more vibrant inside. Follow with your favourite moisturiser for an inner (and outer) gleam.
Optimal diffusing is the beauty phrase du jour. Products often use ingredients like mica, iron oxides or titanium dioxide that sit on the skin and reflect light away from shadowy lines and imperfections. It’s the beauty industry version of smoke and mirrors. Finely crushed diamonds can provide luminosity, although no one will know they’re the real thing – just you. Still, being aware that your skin is sprinkled with diamonds will make you glow a little inside, no?
If diamonds aren’t your best friend but you still want to glimmer, why not go for gold? La Sultane de Saba à L’Or products have gold flecks that create a lovely luminous effect.
You can put a flush in your cheeks and a sparkle in your eye with one glass of fizz in the hot tub. However, the effect wears off after a while and you don’t want to come home sozzled. Heat treatments are great for boosting circulation and blood flow, but be aware that too much can make you ruddy and flushed rather than glowing. A good way to get blood flow to your cheeks as well as some hydrated plumpness is with a facial massage; they feel divine too, especially if you tend to hold tension in your jaw. Or just pinch your cheeks like they did in the olden days.
If you plunge yourself in some icy water after a hot sauna, your heart rate will increase and blood will flow to the skin’s surface – zing, instant glow. You’re basically in fight-or-flight mode, which is a good look radiance-wise; bright skin and black pupils are the same as falling in love, albeit with crazy pool hair.
Haven’t yet braved a plunge pool or ice fountain? One Harvard Business School study discovered that excitement and anxiety produce the same physiological effects, getting your body ready to produce enough energy to run, fight or dance the night away. Telling yourself you feel alive rather than shocked out of your senses will do the trick. Fire and ice treatments also wake up your immune system to tackle winter nasties. Go on, take the plunge.
Serotonin is the happy hormone, and it’s a must if you want to glow with inner joy. One sure way to do this is have a massage; in studies carried out on depressed mothers, a twice-weekly massage increased serotonin levels by up to 34 per cent. Touch also produces oxytocin, a hormone produced by bonding that encourages a slightly loved-up vibe.
Often, we stagger out of massages and pass out on a relaxation bed, waking up 30 minutes later with a line of dribble on our chin. That may be a certain kind of happy, but it’s not radiance. Ask your therapist to strike the right balance between bliss and bounce or tick ‘energised’ rather than ‘relaxed’ on your consultation form.
Having said that, if you really are shattered, go for a nap. Sleep deprivation leads to poor circulation, which is why you look pale, washed out and sometimes a little grey around the gills if you haven’t had some quality sleep.
Some people (including Spa Spies, ahem) find they fall asleep during a treatment, particularly if it is a long, deep aromatherapy massage. Others find it pleasant to drift away on a poolside lounger, lulled away by the warmth and gentle sounds of splashing water. Recent studies have shown that an afternoon nap makes the brain perform as if it were five years’ younger.
For glowing skin, however, you need a proper night’s sleep, as this is when the skin regenerates. You can book treatments, facials or even spa sleep retreats that are designed to help if the holy grail of eight hours proves elusive. If it’s worry that’s keeping you awake, book a meditation session at one of the more wellness-themed spas, and learn how to focus and calm your mind.
At this time of year, you may think you can get away with pale and pasty from the neck down. But what if you are suddenly called to a spa, or a romantic liaison? Maybe you just want to look like you’ve actually been outside instead of chained to your desk.
If Donald Trump has taught us anything useful, it is how not to do fake tan. But don’t reach for the nearest bottle and definitely do not book a sun bed as these give off just as much harmful radiation as sunlight. We prefer self-tan lotions which will give you a much more natural look rather than pasting on layers of orange. Apply your first dose three days before you want to achieve the effect: you can then layer up the tan depth slowly.
We recently saw a gang of supermodels on a flight to the Maldives (as you do) rocking the thick winter jumper fand ski-tan look. They could just as easily have been to a yoga retreat in Bali as had a tanning treatment at a spa. And that's entirely the point.
One theory as to why exercise reduces depression, anxiety and stress is that physical activity can cause the brain to release ‘happy hormones’ such as serotonin and endorphins. Even a light workout will improve circulation.
Too exhausted to do anything? Studies at the University of Georgia concluded that the best way to beat fatigue and boost energy is through exercise, but you can also get the same effect doing more peaceful exercise such as yoga. Book into a destination spa that offers free, or very low-price, classes as part of your deal. Or make time during your spa day to get outside and explore the grounds.
Sun rays can be harmful, but UV rays absorbed through your skin also produce Vitamin D. One of the roles of Vitamin D is to promote serotonin production; 15 minutes in an outdoor hot tub in the Swiss Alps should produce the perfect inner and outer glow. The same in the drizzly Midlands might produce less joy, but is still better than nothing. Bright light filtering through your eyes also increases serotonin, so you might be able to get happy from a facial that uses an intense LED lamp, too.
Research has shown that even 15 minutes of relaxation almost halves the production of the stress-hormone cortisol. High cortisol prompts the skin to produce more sebum (oil), clogging the pores and leading to all manner of skin complaints. Cortisol can also reduce levels of happy hormones serotonin and dopamine. In the interests of putting a smile on your face, we suggest booking a mindfulness facial or massage. Or find a relaxation space with views over treetops for a spot of cortisollowering forest bathing. A spa is the perfect place to relax, reboot and recharge your energy, so you emerge glowing, radiant and ready for the party season.